Did Imam Al Bukhari reject 99% of the hadith he came into contact with?

Was Imam Al Bukhari a hadith rejecter? Studies show he rejected 99% of the hadith that he came into contact with.

“And of the people is he who buys vain hadith to mislead from the way of Allah without the knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.”  (Qur’an 31:6)

As the above text indicates just as their are vain hadith there are hadith that are not vain. It was up to hadith specialist to be diligent in shifting the wheat from the chaff.  The documented Sunnah known as also as ‘hadith’ assist us as Muslims to follow the Sunnah of the Blessed Messenger (saw) as instructed:  “You have a good model in the Messenger of Allah for one who hopes for Allah and the Last Day.” (Qur’an 33:21)

“Say: if you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you.” (Qur’an 3:31) “Verily, We have revealed the Reminder (Qur’an to you O Muhammed) so that you may explain to people what has been revealed to them.” (Qur’an 16:64) 

What should be important to note is that Imam Al Bukhari was not a known rejecter of the Sunnah of the Blessed Messenger (saw).  He simply had very strict criteria for accepting a hadith. 

Al Dhahabi said: 

“It has been narrated through two firm channels of transmission that Al-Bukhari said: ‘I extracted this book from 600,000 hadiths, and I compiled it over sixteen years, and I made it a plea for what lies between myself and Allah.”

Source: (Narrated by al-Khatib, al-Jami’ li-Akhlaq alrawi 2:270-271 1613) *

Imam Al Nawawi said, “The totality of its hadiths are 7,275 with the repetitions and about 4,000 without.” *

*Source:  (Volume 1 Hadith History & Principles-Gibril Fouad Haddad pg 105)

Dear readers, you do the math?  I came up with a figure of .66% as I took the number of 4,000 ahadith without repetitions.  What is 4,000 hadith from 600,000? Even if you take the higher number of 7,275 hadiths with repetitions what percentage does this work out to?

Am I mistaken?  This means he rejected 99% of the hadiths that he came into contact with!  If this is not an eye-opener for you dear readers than I don’t know what would be.

You can quickly verify this information through the following as well.

The historical facts…

Sahih Al-Bukhari is regarded by a vast majority of the Muslims as the most authoritative collection of the Blessed Prophetic Sayings and Deeds – in the form of written text it is called Hadiths. 

Quoted below are two sources, written by learned Muslim scholars, that give details for the origin of Sahih Al-Bukhari, compiled by Imam Bukhari (died 256 A.H.)These source documents also tell us that hundreds of thousands of unreliable narrations were rejected by Bukhari.

The Muslim community has since then profusely complimented his great efforts. Circulation of the True Reports amalgamated along with the False Reports, attributed to the Blessed Prophet (saw.),  this was not tolerated then and should not be tolerated now, if the bottom line is to propagate the Whole Truth, on behalf of the beloved Prophet.

The figures recorded below show that Imam Bukhari had rejected more than 99% of the circulating Hadeeths that were memorized by the learned scholars and respected Imams of his own era and of his predecessors.

“Sahih Bukhari is a collection of sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammed (saw), also known as the sunnah. The reports of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds are called ahadith. Bukhari lived a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death and worked extremely hard to collect his ahadith. Each report in his collection was checked for compatibility with the Qur’an, and the veracity of the chain of reporters had to be painstakingly established. Bukhari’s collection is recognized by the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world to be one of the most authentic collections of the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw). Bukhari (full name Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin al-Mughira al-Ja’fai) was born in 194 A.H. and died in 256 A.H. His collection of hadith is considered second to none. He spent sixteen years compiling it and ended up with 2,602 hadith (9,082 with repetition). His criteria for acceptance into the collection were amongst the most stringent of all the scholars of ahadith.  It is important to realize, however, that Bukhari’s collection is not complete: there are other scholars who worked as Bukhari did and collected other authentic reports.”  *

* Source: (The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari’ by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, pg 4)

You can find the source for this here:  http://islamtheonlytruereligion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/translation-of-sahih-al-bukhari.pdf

Did you notice the very careful wording of the author above?  “one of the most authentic collections“; however he did not say infallible without a doubt.

Notice he also says, “His collection of hadith is considered second to none“; however he did not say that it was beyond reproach.

“In time the Prophet’s sayings and actions—hadith, traditions—came to be accepted as the truth by Muslims. The problem lay in locating a genuine hadith. It is said Imam Hanbal narrated one million. Al Ghazzali earned his title hujjatal-Islam, the authority of Islam, by memorizing 300,000. The accepted authority, Imam Bukhari, after a lifetime’s work, selected about 7,300 from 600,000 in 97 books. Collecting hadith became an Islamic science.”  *

* Source: (Discovering Islam’ by Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed, page 24). 

That quote is found here: http://www.bandung2.co.uk/books/Files/Religion/Discovering%20Islam%20-%20Making%20Sense%20of%20Muslim%20History%20&%20Society.pdf

The percentage of rejection…

If one was to work out the percentage of the rejection by Imam Bukhari from the above-recorded figures, one would be shocked and taken aback having arrived at the staggering high figures for the elimination. One can say that 99.27% of what Imam Hanbal had memorized was not included by Imam Bukhari; 97.57% of what Al-Ghazzali had memorized and 98.78% of what he himself had earlier memorized. These figures of the rejections would rise even further if one was to work them on the bases of the accepted 2,230 Hadeeths without repetition.

Respectively in the same order, the new percentage figures for the rejections would be  99.998%;  99.993%, and  99.996%.

Imam Bukhari has never been criticized or accused of being a rejecter of Hadeeth – Munkar-e-Hadeethfor rejecting the unreliable narrations. His efforts are being proudly complimented. The reality is that Imam Bukhari earned his reputation by his strict rules and accepting only a fraction of the percentage out of the million(!) in circulation. His diligent work of “rejection” is erroneously heightened by a few, to a degree of that of an infallible person.

Now the question is what makes everyone so certain that this compilation is 100% authentic?  Given the fact that Imam Bukhari (May Allah have mercy on him) had a rejection rate of 99% for the ahadith, he came in contact with?

“Surely in that are signs for a people who reflect” (Qur’an 13:3)

“Do not cloak Truth with falsehood nor hide the Truth while you realize it.” (Qur’an 2:42)



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10 responses to “Did Imam Al Bukhari reject 99% of the hadith he came into contact with?

  1. Bassam Zawadi

    The author is making the same typical mistake that many make and they assume that “600,000 hadith” means 600,000 separate hadith. No… rather it’s referring to 600,000 narrations, where some have the same matn, but different isnads. So one matn with 10 different isnads could be referred to as 10 hadiths here.

    • Brother Bassam I was a little confused as to what your point was here.

      “The author is making the same typical mistake that many make and they assume that “600,000 hadith.”

      Than you admit, ” No one matn with 10 different isnads could be referred to as 10 hadiths here.”

      So what is the point of contention? If you yourself admit that they still could be refered to as hadiths?

      Now the real question. Is the percentage worked out above incorrect?

      Lets say for example we still considered 10 different isnads of one matn as simply 1 hadith. How does this change the PERCENTAGE of the rejection rate by the illustrious Imam Bukhari?

      Btw, just for you and the readers I am also not saying that there are NOT other hadith considerd authentic that are not in Bukhari’s collection.

  2. Bassam Zawadi

    There is a serious problem here submitting comments.

  3. Bassam Zawadi

    The point is that your article gives the false impression that Bukhari rejected 99% of those 600,000 hadiths as unreliable. The context and tone of your article gives that impression and that is misleading. The reality is that he refused entry of a chunk of them because of the overlaps. I think you need to re-write your article and communicate your points more clearly.

    • Bassam you say,

      “The reality is that he refused entry of a chunk of them because of the overlaps.”

      Are you now saying that he didn’t allow those with overlaps because they were authentic but he didn’t feel they were necessary?

      If so what percentage do you feel this works out to?

      Also when you say he refused ‘a chunk of them’. I am sorry Bassam but this does not help the readers or your position.

      I respect you to be a scholarly person. Could we maybe come up with something better than ‘a chunk of them’.

      Numbers? Statistics? Percentages?

      If your trying to take away from the sheer ‘shock value’ that the title has I don’t feel your helping your particular case thus far.

  4. Bassam Zawadi

    Okay I just figured out that problem. i can’t provide links.

    • I will see how I can change this.

      I want you and anyone else who wants to provide links to be able to do so. As I said I do not want any censorship, other than I will of course censor coarse language.

      Apologies as I am new to using WordPress. I will try and remedy this.

  5. Bassam Zawadi

    I don’t have the statistics on me Jason, but given that you don’t have the statistics either, the honest/professional/scholarly/responsible thing for you to do would be to take down your article until you’ve obtained that relevant piece of information. Given that you don’t know how drastically this would change your findings, it appears that you shouldn’t publish this stuff yet.

    • “I don’t have the statistics on me Jason, but given that you don’t have the statistics either.”

      Bassam, I do have the statistics and they are published for all to see. You have not disproved it. Instead you claim the percentage is wrong.

      You have failed to provide even a shred of evidence.

      The best you came up with was the following two points.

      a) “The reality is that he refused entry of a chunk of them because of the overlaps.”

      “a chunk of them” is anything but scholarly Bassam.

      b) Than you admit, ” No one matn with 10 different isnads could be referred to as 10 hadiths here.”

      So what is the point of contention? If you yourself admit that they still could be referred to as hadiths?

      Are you seriously thinking about what your posting?

      Unless you can provide something meaningful than I believe are are done here respected brother.

  6. Pingback: Al-Daraqutni: The Sunni Imam who questioned Bukhari’s collection | primaquran

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